Great Britain was the fourth largest rapeseed producer and hardly relied on imports during its membership of the EU.
However, this has changed since the small 2020 harvest and there are no signs of a turnaround in the 2021/22 season.
By 27 July, the British winter rapeseed harvest was approximately 9% complete, according to the first harvest progress report of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
Rapeseed crops have been slow to mature, delaying the harvest. In terms of harvest progress, this year’s harvest is currently the second slowest since 2014. Additionally, the area of land to be harvested, 315,000 hectares, is 17% smaller than a year earlier.
Based on early yield indications, the AHDB puts the average yield of this year’s winter rapeseed harvest in the range of 30-34 decitonnes per hectare, which is close to the long-term average of 33 decitonnes per hectare.
This is as much as 19% higher than the previous year's weak 27 decitonnes per hectare. Oil content is assessed in the range of 43-45%.
Drying has not been required due to the high temperatures in eastern England.
The 2021 rapeseed harvest is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes, which would be only marginally up on the previous year's volume.
In other words, extensive imports will once again be required for the 2021/22 marketing year, because domestic consumption (estimated at 1.6 million tonnes) could reach the long-term average of just less than 2 million tonnes. Consequently, the level of self-sufficiency is set to remain at the low level of 66%. This compares to 100% in the period from 2016 to 2018.
The most common source of biodiesel from UK-origin feedstock is used cooking oil (UCO). According to the Department for Transport's latest renewable fuel statistics for 2020, 62 million litres of UCO was produced.
Oilseed rapeseed, on the other hand, contributes around 3% to the total feedstock supply. A total of 400,000 hectares of farm land in the country has been set aside for oilseed rape, and the average yield per hectare is 3.4 tonnes.
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